Friday, May 6, 2011

Spring break, college... the FUTURE

Angela Short
For some families, it may already seem as if spring break is in the distant past. But for others – specifically, those who participated in The Indiana Partnerships Center’s college tours – spring break represents the future.

That’s because several dozen young people and their families spent their breaks contemplating an exciting future in college and beyond. 

This was the third year that the center provided college tours, and I had the privilege of leading the trips to five Indiana campuses. Throughout the week, the energy and excitement from the parents and the students was amazing. 

We got an early start Monday, March 28. Very early. Fifty-four participants boarded a bus at 6:45 a.m. and headed to Vincennes University. Students guided us on a tour and engaged the group in a panel discussion about college life. Admissions and the financial department made presentations. Our families asked good questions to support their students. Lunch was provided and each student was given a T-shirt. The families were thrilled with the reception the school provided.

It was a hectic day, but we were reenergized when we returned to Indianapolis and were greeted by a WTHR-Channel 13 news crew, who interviewed families about their experiences.

The next day, the families gathered at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, where we were met by Indianapolis Star reporter Will Higgins. He interviewed parents and students about the college tours, and the families discussed the importance of parents’ involvement. Once the tour got underway, the families were pleased with the personal attention provided by the folks at IUPUI.

On Wednesday, 43 participants headed to Anderson University, where admissions staff discussed the educational opportunities that a small college – this one with a Christian perspective – can provide. Several students guided us on a tour. Next we headed to Ball State University in Muncie, where several student ambassadors showcased the campus and its academic offerings and offered tips on how to make a successful transition into college. The adults were rewarded with BSU T-shirts after the presentation, but the real reward, they said, was how appreciated and empowered they felt.

Last but not least, we met at the Ivy Tech Community College campus in Indianapolis. This tour included an opportunity for families to meet with professors and engage in conversation about study skills needed to prepare for college. 

Throughout the week, many families expressed their gratitude for the opportunity to visit college campuses. One father, who had not gone to college, told me that the colleges really seemed to care and made him feel comfortable about leaving his daughter there. A mother said she felt confident that the colleges would take care of her daughter. A grandmother discussed her fears about letting her grandchildren leave home but said that the tours made her feel supported. The students shared their excitement of the possibilities of leaving home to gain independence and knowledge that can lead to a better life.  

Overall, this was a wonderful opportunity for all who participated in the college tours – including me. Parents, did you participate in the center’s tours or make a college visit on your own? I hope you’ll share your experiences here and explain why those who couldn’t join us this year should mark their calendars for next spring break. 

The Indiana Partnerships Center encourages and enables parents to engage with their child's school, to the mutual benefit of the child and the school.  The center, which serves all of Indiana, is one of 62 Parental Information Resource Centers funded by the U.S. Department of Education Office of Innovation and Improvement.